Friday, May 24, 2013

Bang With Friends: New Age of Hook-Ups or Walking STDs? The Best Comments and Our App to Screen Them Before You Bang’em

It’s official. Bang With Friends (BWF), the Facebook application that allows people to find friends who are ready to hookup for sex,  has gone mobile with an Android app that offers new features.  The iPhone app was also launched but was promptly booted from the Apple App Store shortly thereafter.  Darn.  It was pulled just as they provided the Undo a Bang” feature, solving the problem of selecting the wrong friend after too many tequila shots.  Another new feature--for those of us who don’t just want to hit it and quit it--is a “Hangout First” option.


Screenshot of Bang With Friends.com - Booted, 5/24/13

Since its January launch, BWF has signed up over 820,000 users, 70 percent of which are between 18 and 34 years old.  But this is just one of several hookup and dating apps now being used to establish connections.  Tinder, which has facilitated 24 million matches to date, is a location based app that finds people nearby who like you. It connects you with them if you also express interest. Grindr, which a year ago exceeded 4M users, is similar to Tinder but targeted to the male gay and bi-sexual community. For those who like it less direct, the OKCupid app, which has 3.8M active users is one of the most popular for singles aged 18-34 years. It shows you who’s nearby to flirt but it’s not anonymous. And on the most conservative side, Trintme allows Facebook friends to express more intentions and can start with even just a coffee.

Still, those new apps introduce a whola lotta new banging and grinding.  And as we wrote in our previous blog post, a feeling of trust can produce the false feeling of knowing your partner's STI/STD status. Will people be less likely to use protection or ask their partner’s sexual health status if they bang friends instead of strangers? Will the opportunity for immediate hook-ups decrease the chance that partners will take time to talk about sexual health just because they’re ready for action...NOW?

icanteachyouhowtodoit via Compfight cc

I read over 50+ comments that were in reaction to Bang With Friends going mobile. In fact, I was pleasantly surprised at the number of people who commented on the future of our sexual health (or made a pun or joke about it). Here are some of the most popular comments:

1. “Sooner or later BWF will change its name to STDs.”
2. “Can you also earn badges that say "I have had a comprehensive STD test"?
3. “HIV with friends, AIDS with friends, Syphilis with friends...”
4. “Coming Soon. An App that lets you know that your previous-partner-but-has just had a "tune-up" and you should probably get one, too: Bang With Penicillin!”

5. “Explosion of STDs...”
6. “What will Bang With Friends do to STD occurrences on college campuses?” - wrote Brittany Falconer on RaceTalk Blog
There is a big, big window of opportunity for these hookup/dating apps to not only encourage their users to bang their Facebook friends, neighbors, co - workers, etc. but to make it a habit to wrap it up and check their status. On a Developer Week Hackathon in San Francisco, we coded an app in response to the hookup craziness called ScreenYourFriends which allows you to guess when your buddies were tested last and, if you guess right, you win a prize.


Anonymized Screenshot of ScreenYourFriends.com, 5/23/2012



Now that was just a hack (quick and dirty software build over a weekend) but I would love to see a status update like: “ Luv4You has just received a badge of honor for getting STI/STD tested.” Before you BWF, make sure you BWD (BeforeWeDo) and get yourself tested. Then make sure your friends get themselves tested, too.

That being said, should it be the responsibility of hookup/dating apps to promote safe sex and regular STI/STD testing?





5 comments:

  1. If its really just a hook-up site, then I think having a more structured way of communicating last STD status would be quite neat! You could see who is around you and who takes sexual health serious, too. Makes 'em sexier!

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    1. totally agree! we are looking forward to more innovation happening in this field. And if people are not comfortable sharing their actual results, they could share the way they take care of their sexual health. E.g. How often and for what they get tested.

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  3. These sites have been around for awhile and are used by many MSM. It does allow for more opportunity and in some sense it does take the guess work out of sex. In a matter of minutes you'll know if someone is interested or not. Are these sites the cause for the increase in STI rates? The jury is still out. As adults we DO have a social obligation to protect ourselves and our current partner or partners. Yes, I did say partners. Social mores often dictate that we should have only one partner but for some this is not the case. Is that "wrong" ? Who am I to judge. I often counsel my clients that use these sites to openly talk BEFORE getting in the sack with someone. Ask questions, maybe meet for coffee first. If a potential partner is not willing to engage in an open healthy sexual discussion prior to sex, is it worth the risk ? To me, it's not. Sex is a natural inclination for most of us; once we can engage potential partners in a healthy discussion, risk reduction can be achieved; complete elimination of risk is never possible unless one is abstinent.

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    1. Thanks a lot for your common. I like how you stress that adults are entitled to make their own decisions and that we should provide them with the best information and tools so they can make the best decisions for themselves.

      You mentioned 'clients'? Are you a sexual health counselor? Would love to talk more and post something together!

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